A Pharmaceutical firm in Kilifi County has become among the first Kenyan companies to manufacture and export Covid-19 testing kits to different parts of the World to fight the pandemic that has claimed lives and destroyed economies.
Early this week, Revital Healthcare (EPZ) Limited exported tonnes of the Covid-19 kits which included Viral Transport Medium (VTMs), Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), swabs and reagents to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zambia.
These four countries are among 14 African countries where the firm has been exporting its medical products. The company also exports to the European countries and is currently eyeing the US market.
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The consignment was flagged off by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi who lauded the company operating in Msumarini, Kilifi county for embracing the ‘Buy Kenya Build Kenya’ Initiative by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The initiative aims at empowering local manufacturers in enhancing the manufacturing sector which is one of the big four agendas of development.
“What is happening in this factory is among the big four agenda that we were given by President Uhuru Kenyatta. We are happy that this factory chose to invest in Kilifi County,” said Governor Kingi after launching the consignment.
He said for a company to invest in its billions of shillings in the county is a sign of an investor confidence and also some of the gains on the devolved government’s efforts to provide a conducive investment environment.
“As county government our goal is to make sure that investors get the conducive environment to invest and grow the regional economy. The factory here has created more job opportunities and that 80 per cent of the workforce comprises of the locals,” he said.
Kingi said the company has the capacity to produce PPEs and meet the global demand of the covid-19 kits during this time of the pandemic.
“We faced a lot of challenges when we wanted to do mass testing in our counties. Getting the VTM was the biggest challenge and in our case for example, we used to get reagents at KEMRI Kilifi.
However without swabs, our frontline officers were not able to go to the grassroots and pick samples for analysis in our labs at Kemri and Malindi,” he said.
Revital Healthcare (EPZ) Limited chairman Rajni Vora said the company started with only two products in 2008 when it was officially launched by retired President Mwai Kibaki.
“We started with two products, then a small industry in Jomvu and today we manufacture 34 products in line. In the medical world, there 1,000 products and slowly by slowly, we shall get one by one,” said Dr Vora.
Covid-19 testing kits
He said when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country his focus turned to manufacturing of PPE and the Covid-19 testing kits.
“It took me three months to get the right things done, the right approvals and the right certification of my company and that is how I started my products. This is the only company in Africa that can manufacture 80,000 VTM tubes and Swabs a day it is not possible anywhere,” he said.
The firm has been certified and licensed by international medical organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr Vora said they have also been approved to export their products to Europe and soon, his products will also be getting their way into the United States (US) market.
“We have employed 400 people in this factory and our target is to employ more than 1,000. That is one of my contribution towards creating job opportunities,” he said.
The chairman further said he was willing to contribute some of the Covid-19 testing kits to the devolved government as his contribution towards fighting the covid-19 pandemic in the county.
“I am ready to support the county in the fight against covid-19 and today I am giving out 1,000 VTM tubes with swabs free of charge to the county government as my contribution,” said Dr Vora.
“I got first orders of exports from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zambia. My first consignment is going by air because it has to be stored in a cool place,” said Dr Vora.
The Governor said that the county is on the process of starting mass testing in near future following the availability of VTMs.
“We have already ordered for VTMs because the biggest challenge was even where to get them together with the swabs.
It was not in fact a budgetary issue but it was just a case in scenario where the money was there but the kits were not there. But with the availability of these products here, certainly as a county, we are going to broaden our mass testing. We are going to bring more population into testing as opposed to before when there was absolutely nowhere to get them other than what we were used to be given by KEMSA,” said the Governor.